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Mobilization leaflet for food to be brought along during World War II ( Swiss Army )

Mobilization means preparing the armed forces of a state for action, usually for a war of aggression or defense . The existing active and partially active units are mobilized (ie made "mobile"): They are put in a position to leave their peace locations in order to be able to carry out combat operations . Previously inactive units (see reserve ) will be reorganized.

The withdrawal of mobilization is demobilization .

Types of mobilization

In a general mobilization or general mobilization all forces will be mobilized at a partial mobilization only part of the armed forces.

When mobilizing, the active troops are often reinforced in terms of personnel and material. In the Bundeswehr , the mobilization of reservists was called "personal mobilization" and the requisition of civilian equipment (especially motor vehicles and special machines) was called "material mob additions".

Mobilization can be done openly or covertly.

In the Swiss Armed Forces , citizens who are required to do military service are summoned to active service by the civil authorities . Since the Swiss militia army - apart from those currently in training - does not have any standing troops, the conscripts have to keep their personal equipment and weapons at home in order to enable quicker mobilization.

Historical examples

Mobilizations, for example, exacerbated the situation during the July crisis in 1914: none of the powers involved believed they could do without early mobilization; the mobilization helped escalate the crisis.

The East as the location at the westernmost country and as a front-line state of the Warsaw Pact had a particularly elaborate infrastructure for rapid mobilization: Combat Groups , military sports in the context of military training and much more, see also mobilization divisions (NVA) . In 1977 the GDR tried a new mobilization system and the paramilitary combat groups were equipped to increase the NVA's readiness to fight.

Mobilization of the Bundeswehr and allies (1980s)

A situation of tension between the two superpowers, the USA and the USSR , or their military alliances, NATO and the Warsaw Pact, could have triggered the case of defense for the Federal Republic of Germany . In the event of a war between the two adversaries, the advance warning time would have been of crucial importance because it would have had a decisive influence on the alerting and mobilization.

At the political level, the Bundestag would determine that the federal territory is being attacked with armed force or that such an attack is imminent and, with the consent of the Bundesrat, will declare a case of defense. In this case, the federal government was authorized to declare a state of defense ( national defense ) in accordance with Article 115 of the Basic Law . Emergency laws could then be imposed. In the event of an immediate threat, the federal government would have had the option of relocating to the underground Marienthal office as the alternative seat of the constitutional organs to secure government work .

In advance, SACEUR had triggered the NATO alarm for Western Europe. The NATO alert under the code name ACTIVE EDGE was an annual / six-monthly alerting and mobilization exercise of the NATO armed forces according to the escalation levels SIMPLE ALERT, REINFORCED ALERT and GENERAL ALERT. In the run-up, there were often advance warnings through military reconnaissance of enemy troops marching towards the inner-German border, etc. In an emergency, the GDP ( General Defense Plan ) or the shortened EDP (Emergency Defense Plan) would be released and sent by SACEUR, depending on the current situation and advance warning time the European commands CINCNORTH (Supreme Commander Allied Forces Northern Europe), CINCENT (Supreme Commander Allied Forces Central Europe) and CINCSOUTH (Supreme Commander Allied Forces South Europe).

SACEUR (Supreme Allied Commander Europe) alerted all NATO command staffs and prepared the AFNORTH and AFCENT command posts for the war situation. The chain of command ran from AFNORTH and AFCENT ( NORTHAG and CENTAG ) down to the NATO corps LANDJUT (AFNORTH), I. NL Corps , I. DE Corps , I. BR Corps , I. BE Corps , V US Corps , VII US Corps and II DE Corps (all belonging to AFCENT). Special measures were taken at the NAEW (NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force Command), the Allied Air Command (AIRCOM) and other agencies. This also included the implementation of the AirLandBattle doctrine with special consideration of the air defense and the preparation of FOFA strikes against the troop deployment of the 2nd season of enemy WP forces in the depths of the enemy space.

Alerting the air force

Achievement of air superiority was of vital importance in the first hours of a sharp conflict between the two superpowers. The alerting of the air forces initially meant an increased alertness of all interceptors (e.g. Tactical Air Force Wing 71 "Richthofen" with phantom interceptors), the ascent into the air and the sharp order (according to the rules of engagement ), but not in the event of a violation of the airspace to react more by pushing away enemy fighters (e.g. MiG-31 ), but to specifically take up the fire fight.

Alerting the air defense

The air surveillance of the air defense forces was largely controlled by the low-flying reporting and control service departments (TMLD) of the Air Force in cooperation with the AWACS . The HAWK and Nike anti-aircraft batteries were activated from the TMLD . The anti-aircraft batteries, their fire control systems and radars were arranged in a defensive belt near the inner-German border according to certain geographical criteria, whereby it had to be taken into account that the WP air forces were able to fly below the radar horizon of the NATO large positions.

Alerting the REFORGER forces

In phase II, a REFORGER relocation ( Return of Forces to Germany ) could be ordered by Canadian and US armed forces by means of convoys across the North Atlantic to ports in the Benelux countries or the FRG. After entering the theater of war in Western Europe, the newly arrived REFORGER forces were to take over equipment and devices from POMCUS depots (Prepositioning Of Materiel Configured in Unit Sets) and relocate them immediately to the GDP rooms. For this maneuver, there was a time limit of two, three to four weeks with / without sea transport.

Alerting the reserves and rapid intervention forces

Since the arrival of the REFORGER troops took a certain lead time, the immediate relocation of the UKMF (UK Mobile Force) from Great Britain to the war zone of West Germany, primarily in the combat patrol of the I. BR Corps, played an important role. For a long time it was the 1st UK Infantry Brigade that was called in for this purpose.

Alerting the army

As the starting point for many alerting exercises, political tensions turned into a military escalation. After a short or medium-term warning period, this resulted in an increase in the individual levels of defense readiness ( Defense Conditions ) from DEFCON-5 to DEFCON-1 (GENERAL ALERT, COCKED PISTOL, color white).

In this case, the divisions of the field army were issued with the corps order that the GDP applicable to their sector would come into force. Thereupon the divisions ordered their tank or tank grenadier brigades and these their battalions to build up a defense along the VRV (Front Edge of Defense) or to start the delay battle close to the border .

Mob planning of the Bundeswehr

A large part of the field army was placed above the growth of the mob reserve, from peace to war strength. This included the convening of the territorial reserve. This also applied to vacationers. After certain code words (e.g. “BLUE APE” ) had been passed on via the media such as television and radio, the call was made to the mob reservists to immediately go to the barracks indicated on the mob notification. The respective district defense replacement offices (KWE) call up the mob reserve according to the existing mob positions (V-StAN service posts) and the total number of reservists. At the same time, the mob supplement plan for motor vehicles came into force. The wording of a mob draft notice could e.g. B. read as follows:

After the announcement of the state of defense or its occurrence, without waiting for any further requests, you have to present yourself immediately to the unit JgBtl 811 for unlimited military service in accordance with Section 4, Paragraph 1, No. 4 of the Military Service Act. This also applies if the federal government has made a public call (television, radio, press) for the alarm reserve closed (regardless of the password) or orders part of the alarm reserve with the same password to perform an on-call military exercise of indefinite duration. "

- no source given

Process of NATO alarm at battalion and company level (PzGrenBtl)

A NATO alarm was subdivided into the following individual phases: alerting - mobilization / mobilization - marching from the disposition area to the GDP position area and there establishing preparedness.

In the event of a NATO alarm, the alarm is issued according to the alarm calendar. In the first step (shown here ideally) the S3 staff officer of the Panzergrenadier Battalion alerted the NCO (UvD). The second in this chain was the platoon leader on duty and this alerted the company commander , the company troop leader and the company sergeant . The platoon leader on duty then alerted the three platoons of the combat company. In this step, the tank crews and rifle troops were ordered to stow away private items, put on combat equipment and receive the StAN weapon with ammunition at the armory. In addition, certain items of equipment were handed over for emergencies, such as As the atropine - Selbstinjektor . The tank crews ( gunner and MKF - military drivers ) prepared the Marder armored personnel carriers in the T-area of ​​the barracks, ready to march and fight, until the field march-like rifle troops sit on the combat vehicles after appearing in front of the company commander and platoon leaders, presenting the situation and issuing orders. Subsequently, the tank grenadier company marching out from the barracks to certain marching order and waits in standby area (usually the training area ) to other commands such. B. by the battalion staff the flow into the border near GDP area.

Phases of mobilization on the inner-German border

There were different scenarios with regard to the relocation / relocation maneuvers between the Bundeswehr and the Federal Border Police . Depending on the conflict situation, Bundeswehr associations should replace the BGS border protection commandos at the zone border and guide them through the respective corps area in order to take over defense near the border with delay forces and deploying cover troops. The mobilization was basically divided into:

  • Deployment phase through deployment of the army divisions
  • Deployment phase of NATO troops in the planned GDP areas

The cover forces, predominantly reinforced tank reconnaissance units, played a decisive role in the planning for how long and how effectively a Warsaw Pact ground offensive in the delay zone of about ten kilometers could have been delayed and how much the attacking tank units could have been worn down.

See also


  • Hermann Rahne: Mobilization. Military mobilization planning and technology in Prussia and the German Empire from the middle of the 19th century to the Second World War . Military publishing house of the GDR, Berlin (East) 1983.
  • Secret regulation H.Dv.g. 151, mobilization plan for the army , 1938.

Web links

Commons : Mobilization  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: mobilization  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. Action M . In: Der Spiegel . No. 11 , 1977 ( online ).
  2. English Advance Warning
  3. It was often discussed whether the Warsaw Pact with the GSSD troops stationed in the GDR would have been able to attack from a standing position
  4. NATO alert exercise "ACTIVE EDGE"
  5. The NATO alert exercises ACTIVE EDGE normally had a duration of 36 hours, or three days with pre- and post-carriage.
  6. E.g. ACTIVE EDGE I / 86 u. ACTIVE EDGE II / 86.
  7. i. d. Usually satellite reconnaissance
  8. Example SACEUR's Emergency Defense Plan - 1958 (PDF)
  9. ^ Bruno Thoss: NATO strategy and national defense planning. Planning and development of the Bundeswehr under the conditions of a massive nuclear retaliation strategy 1952 to 1960 (=  Security Policy and Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Germany , Vol. 1). Oldenbourg, Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-486-57904-8 , p. 499.
  10. Former deployment positions of the TMLD telecommunications stations at the zone border
  11. The NATO air defense belt in Lower Saxony - radar guidance
  12. David Miller: The Cold War: A Military History. St Martins Press, 1999, ISBN 978-0-312-24183-4 , pp. 243-244.
  13. On the ability of the Bundeswehr to grow up during the Cold War, in the period after the reunification and after the suspension of compulsory military service. German Bundestag. WD 2 - 3000 - 032/18. 2018
  14. document kept under lock and key. The alarm calendar listed the chronological order of the individual orders in accordance with Alert action and prescribed procedures
  15. Deputy battalion commander, chief of staff and, in addition to the battalion commander, planning and managing ongoing operations
  16. for self and comrade help b. C attacks